Common problems with virtual selling and how to avoid them

Common problems with virtual selling and how to avoid them

Virtual selling has become increasingly adopted by many organizations. The pandemic caused a lot of companies to switch over to remote working if they wanted to continue running their businesses. While most parts of the world are slowly lifting the restrictions they implemented, the impact will last us for a long time. Virtual selling is one of those many changes that will impact the business world, and it’s certainly not going to go away.  


Most organizations and industries that focused firmly on the importance of face-to-face conversions and handshakes were forced to switch over to make sales over Zoom conference calls. For the most part, they realized that it was much easier than they initially thought, which means there is a chance that the positive impact will lead to less focus on business travels and minimal deals being made in person. As a result, it is beneficial for every sales representative to be at the top of their game when it comes to virtual selling. Like anything else in life, it is the small stuff that makes the most significant impact. 


As fantastic as virtual selling is, there are still some common issues behind it, and every virtual sales team must be aware of them. Anticipating and avoiding these common mistakes is crucial for ensuring your sales team is succeeding at closing deals as quickly as possible. While virtual selling has provided organizations with new opportunities for their sales team, it also has caused new roadblocks for sellers unprepared for connecting with clients in the virtual selling space. 


Fortunately, since virtual selling is relatively new for most people, mistakes can be politely disregarded. However, the client overlooking these problems will only last for a short while. Sales professionals need to know what they should avoid for the coming future. For this post, let’s go over some of the common problems with virtual selling and how to avoid them. 


Poor planning 

Virtual meetings require your sales team to be far more organized compared to traditional face-to-face meetings. However, some sales professionals tend to make the mistake of handling them far too informally because they don’t want to possibly make an already awkward situation into something even more unbearable. Virtual meetings need to be handled professionally and with care. The clients will become frustrated and confused if the meeting is aimless and doesn’t provide them with the information they want or need. 


Poor planning needs to be avoided the most. Lead the discussion by sharing an agenda a day or so before the meeting takes place. Ask your customers to make any additional changes based on their personal needs. Once everyone has agreed to the changes made to the schedule, which should offer flexibility on topics, timing, and discussions. 


Not seeing each other

Virtual meetings are conducted on video conferencing platforms like Zoom. It’s become one of the best ways for sales teams and clients to communicate with each other and do their meetings. Zoom and other video conference platforms have managed to salvage the way we interact with our customers. Plus, they make better alternatives to phone calls because they allow both parties to see each other's faces when the cameras are on. Studies have shown that closing rates for virtual meetings are at least 10% higher when the cameras are left on by both parties. 


That means, whenever your sales reps are going into a video call, they need to ensure that every participant has their cameras on.  Of course, there is no guarantee that your clients will have their camera on when you start a meeting with them, and things can get awkward if you try to prompt them to do so in the middle of a call. 


When setting up a meeting, tell the prospect that the call requires them to be on camera. Sending the client a message ahead of time usually helps them know that you wish to conduct the meeting with the cameras on. The email should clearly explain why you are requesting them to have cameras on, and it emphasizes the importance of relationships and developing consensus with the client.


Everyone is not participating

If you are in the middle of a sales call with a room packed with people, you will need to ensure that the question you ask them prompts a response and not total silence. For instance, if you have four people on the call, the first thing you need to do is ensure that you are aware of everyone's name. Write them down somewhere you can easily glance to, or you could use a tool like Intro.so. Intro.so provides you with a way to see every attendee's company details, relevant CRM notes, and LinkedIn activity, all on Zoom. 


However, Zoom can display everyone’s call names, but that's if they decide to configure their settings to allow you to do so. If you are prepared with everyone's name, you can better direct each question to them and prompt a response from them.  If you were to ask an open-ended question to the entire group, you are more likely to receive nothing in return but a long awkward silence instead. 


If you want the meeting to go smoothly, there needs to be a primary leader, and it is that person's job to establish the flow of conversation. It starts with collecting everyone’s name and then asking them questions by using their names to prompt them to respond.


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Assuming rapport happens naturally

Rapport usually develops more seamlessly in person because the conversation can start from just a mere observation about the physical surroundings. Something like the cliched weather question to even a nice view can lead to a natural flow of conversation. However, virtual selling makes this a challenging issue. No longer will you be able to look around to start a conversation naturally. Plus, there is no guarantee that the client will have their camera on or even having something on the screen for you to comment on. 


Sales professionals need to do more to facilitate a casual flow of conversation that eventually leads to a formal discussion. Take the time to research any current events in the customer’s organization or industry to help prompt conversation in the early stages of the meeting when everyone is still getting prepped and comfortable being on camera. 



Don’t talk too much

Plenty of salespeople feel compelled to continue the meeting conversation almost entirely because it’s a new space that is even more awkward than a first-time in-person meeting. If the video meeting is especially quiet, the salesperson may feel like they need to continue talking to fill in the silence. If anything, salespeople tend to talk even more so on video calls than they would in an in-person meeting. 


Sales teams need to avoid this situation at all costs. They should instead go into the meeting equipped with a list of questions they want answers to. That should ensure you remain on track to hear more and talk less during the meeting. 


Don’t let the slide deck compete against you

The meetings will likely have the sales representative presenting a slide deck and sharing their screen through the Zoom call. One of the most common problems that happen in this part is that the slide deck contains far too much information. While it’s good to provide the client with the information they need to understand your product, too much information causes them to focus on it instead of the salesperson. 


Essentially, the slide deck is competing with the presenter for the attention of the clients. The client will begin to read everything that is being presented on the slide. They will find it difficult to concentrate on the person talking at the same time. For this part, make sure your slides are laid out neatly and get to the point. If your sales team has created a detailed deck, make sure to send it to them after the meeting has concluded. 





Slide deck takes too much space

During a Zoom meeting, you are likely to share your screen to present the slide deck. However, slide decks tend to take up a good portion of the window, minimizing that personal connection provided by using full-screen videos of the other person. 


When you ask the prospect a question, especially one that is supposed to elicit some conversation, make sure that the shared deck is no longer on the screen, so the both of you can see each other's faces at regular screen size. Throughout the sale call, you are likely to switch between sharing screen mode. Once the slide deck starts to become irrelevant, make sure to take it down. That way, your prospect doesn’t feel like they are back in college. 


Expecting a level of engagement

Chances are, the client you are video calling is conducting these video meetings from home. There is a good chance that they could become distracted from something that happens off-screen. Even if that’s not the case, they are still receiving messages, emails, and other factors that cannot be shut down from the closing doors of a conference room. These distractions hinder focus and collaboration. 


To deal with a situation like this, the sales team needs to state early on in the cell that they are seeking feedback from each participant throughout the conversation. Doing so provides you with a way of conveying that you are welcoming the client’s opinion. Plus, it also keeps them focused on the idea that they may be asked questions.


Technology issues 

As excellent as technology is, it does have the potential to eliminate a prospective virtual sale. For example, a failed connection can be the end of the meeting. Rescheduling becomes a frustrating and challenging issue, especially when the client has other obligations they need to handle. A situation like this can cause an underlying sense that the opportunity has since long passed. 


Sales representatives need to test and retest their equipment before the start of any of their meetings. They need to ensure that everything is working accurately and set up for the upcoming meeting. Audio and video quality are especially vital for these video meetings, so you want to make sure that both the microphone and cameras are working well enough. 


While it is okay to have poor camera quality, the audio quality holds a significant role in keeping the client in the meeting. Since they have to listen to what you're trying to say to them, the poor audio quality will dampen their interest.  However, it is also critical that sales representatives avoid over-reliance on the technology since doing so will lead to them overfilling on charts, lists, and slides that use up valuable conversation time. 


The call transforms into a get-together

These days, most people are using Zoom as a way to keep in touch with each other, not just for working. There are times when these meetings can devolve into a more casual conversation instead of remaining as a business meeting. Without anyone taking charge and directing the flow of dialogue to the main goals, sales calls can become more of a social gathering than a business meeting. 


While these meetings should hold some pleasant and genial elements of any call, you need to keep in mind that the purpose of this call is to close a deal with the prospect. For instance, during the start of the call, make sure that everyone has their mics muted when they are not speaking. If they are unaware of how to silence their mic, show them. It’s the job of the leader to ensure that everyone is aware of the best practices. As the facilitator of this meeting, make sure to come prepared to take control of the conference and ensure expectations are made clear at the start. 


Conclusion

Virtual selling is an excellent way for companies to continue selling their products and services. It has provided a way for companies to continue operating during the pandemic and will continue to assist them even after it passes. However, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out. Take the time to ensure your sales team is aware of how to fix these issues whenever they are preparing for a future meeting call with a client.